An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation

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Jeremy Bentham's Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, a classic text in modern philosophy and jurisprudence, first published in 1789, focuses on the principle of utility and how this view of morality ties into legislative practices. Bentham's ambition in life was to create a complete Utilitarian code of law. The philosophy of utilitarianism argues that the right act or policy is that which would cause "the greatest good for the greatest number of people", also known as "the greatest happiness principle", or the principle of utility.

Bentham's principle of utility regards "good" as that which produces the greatest amount of pleasure, and the minimum amount of pain; and "evil" as that which produces the most pain without the pleasure. This concept of pleasure and pain is defined by Bentham as physical as well as spiritual. Bentham writes about this principle as it manifests itself within the legislation of a society. He lays down a set of criteria for measuring the extent of pain or pleasure that a certain decision will create.

Bentham argues that certain unnecessary laws and punishments could ultimately lead to new and more dangerous vices than those being punished to begin with. He is of opinion that the concept of the individual pursuing his or her own happiness cannot be necessarily declared "right", because often these individual pursuits can lead to greater pain and less pleasure for the society as a whole. Therefore, the legislation of a society is vital to maintaining a society with optimum pleasure and the minimum degree of pain for the greatest amount of people. (Summary adapted from Wikipedia)

Meta-Coordinator/Cataloging: Jc Guan & Anna Simon (14 hr 34 min)


00 - Preface 28:23 Read by Jc Guan
01 - Chapter 1: Of the Principle of Utility 18:57 Read by Claude Banta
02 - Chapter 2: Of Principles Adverse to that of Utility 47:56 Read by Anna Simon
03 - Chapter 3: Of the Four Sanctions or Sources of Pain and Pleasure 9:29 Read by Ruth Golding
04 - Chapter 4: Value of a Lot of Pleasure, How to be Measured 9:41 Read by skoval
05 - Chapter 5: Pleasures and Pains, Their Kinds 19:52 Read by Ruth Golding
06a - Chapter 6, part a: Of Circumstances Influencing Sensibility 37:27 Read by Jc Guan
06b - Chapter 6, part b: Of Circumstances Influencing Sensibility 1:14:15 Read by Jc Guan
07 - Chapter 7: Of Human Actions in General 37:14 Read by gogoblue
08 - Chapter 8: Of Intentionality 19:52 Read by Jc Guan
09 - Chapter 9: Of Consciousness 20:52 Read by Jc Guan
10a - Chapter 10, part a: Of Motives 25:21 Read by Jc Guan
10b - Chapter 10, part b: Of Motives 49:43 Read by Jc Guan
10c - Chapter 10, part c: Of Motives 27:08 Read by Jc Guan
11 - Chapter 11: Of Human Dispositions in General 46:32 Read by Aringguth
12 - Chapter 12: Of the Consequences of a Mischievous Act 34:07 Read by Claude Banta
13 - Chapter 13: Of Cases Unmeet for Punishment 21:46 Read by Gary Gilberd
14 - Chapter 14: Of the Proportion Between Punishments and Offences 26:04 Read by Sean Michael Hogan
15 - Chapter 15: Of the Properties to be Given to a Lot of Punishment 29:36 Read by Anna Simon
16-1 - Chapter 16, paragraph 1: Classes of Offences 6:07 Read by lucidish
16-2a - Chapter 16, paragraph 2, part a: Divisions and sub-divisions 31:05 Read by lucidish
16-2b - Chapter 16, paragraph 2, part b: Divisions and sub-divisions 31:08 Read by Anna Simon
16-3a - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part a: Genera of Class I 33:28 Read by Ruth Golding
16-3b - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part b: Genera of Class I 28:32 Read by Annise
16-3c - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part c: Genera of Class I 36:52 Read by Ruth Golding
16-3d - Chapter 16, paragraph 3, part d: Genera of Class I 25:47 Read by Annise
16-4 - Chapter 16, paragraph 4: Advantages of the present method 11:37 Read by Anna Simon
16-5 - Chapter 16, paragraph 5: Characters of the five classes 14:20 Read by May Low
17 - Chapter 17: Of the Limits of the Penal Branch of Jurisprudence 1:10:50 Read by May Low